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JWT re-defines role

27 January, 2005

Bob Jeffrey, Worldwide CEO of J. Walter Thompson, the largest advertising agency in the U.S. and the fourth largest in the world, today introduced a new agency point of view that recognizes that time is at a premium, and advertising needs to focus on buying people's time.

'Time is the new currency,' said Jeffrey. 'Our job is to ensure that more people spend more time with our clients' brands. We need to create ideas that people want to spend more time with. The better the idea the more time people will spend with it.'

Jeffrey unveiled the concept, along with a plan for applying it at a management meeting in Miami, Fla., attended by the agency's top executives from around the world. The plan includes new Creative Standards and a quantitative-and-qualitative evaluation tool that, for the first time, will move the agency beyond using financials as the sole performance measure.

'The ultimate goal of these efforts is to transform JWT from a service-driven organization that is ruled by the rationale to a creative organism that is inspired by the visceral,' said Jeffrey.

Rosemarie Ryan, president of JWT New York, who also presented at the meeting, underscored the need to abandon an outdated, imposition-based model in today's consumer-controlled, attention-deficit world.

'This thinking represents a shift from quantity time to quality time,' said Ryan, a key thought leader in developing the agency’s new POV. 'As we create participatory advertising that engages consumers rather than interrupts them, the result will be consumers who spend more time with our clients’ brands and our ideas.'

The Creative Standards:
To encourage the sort of ideas that will command consumers' time, JWT has introduced a set of Creative Standards, against which work will be assessed across the network.

At the meeting, Craig Davis, who Jeffrey today promoted to Chief Creative Officer Worldwide (see related press release), unveiled ten standards, ranging from 'world-beating' to 'damaging.' Davis has also been named chairman of JWT's Worldwide Creative Council, which will use these measures to identify high-quality versus intolerable work and everything in between.

'Audiences everywhere are tough,' said Davis, who joined JWT ten months ago as Chief Creative Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa. 'They don’t have time to be bored or brow beaten by orthodox, old-fashioned advertising. We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.'

The Health Check:
With a greater emphasis on creative output, JWT is moving beyond using financials as the sole performance measure.

Michael Maedel, JWT Worldwide President, and Lew Trencher, JWT Chief Financial Officer, took the meeting’s attendees through a new quarterly reporting system. Called the Health Check, the evaluation tool considers an office's work, people, client relationships and reputation, in addition to the bottom line.

'Our overall success consists of a combination of factors working together,' said Maedel. 'Our existing measures tell us what has happened, but not necessarily why. Our new system combines the 'what' with the 'why.''

New Corporate Identity:
Signaling JWT's commitment to change from the inside out, Jeffrey unveiled a new logo and corporate identity, which the agency will be rolling out in the months ahead. After amassing a number of versions of its name over the years, the agency has returned to one: the most succinct and recognized iteration. From today onward, the agency will go by JWT. Those three initials are brought to life in a clean and elegant multi-color logo.

Creative Partnership Contract: Jeffrey stressed the importance of JWT's new point of view by inviting the attendees to sign a Creative Partnership Contract that reiterates the need to 'stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.' The contract, which will be issued to all of JWT's employees worldwide, symbolizes a personal commitment and accountability to improving the creative product and shaping the agency’s future.

'Everyone from every discipline is accountable,' said Jeffrey. 'This fresh way of thinking will fundamentally alter how our company operates and how it is perceived. It addresses an ever-changing media landscape and an increasingly savvy consumer, and returns JWT to our pioneering roots of defining the future rather than chasing it.'

Acrobat Document JWT_PressRelease_JWTReDefinesRole_jan05_guidbc1224.pdf

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